Friday, July 15, 2016

From the Papers - James M. Seaver Suicide in 1869

Inspired by Diane Gould Hall's post today, titled FRIDAY FINDS ~ Gordon W. Flower, dead, only 3 days after his marriage to Lovina McNinch–What was the cause of death? on the Michigan Family Trails blog, I decided to search for Seaver suicides in the online newspapers.  

On GenealogyBank, the search for last name "Seaver" and keyword "suicide" yielded quite a few articles.  The first one was this from the New York Herald newspaper dated Friday, May 21, 1869:



The transcription of the article is:

MELANCHOLY SUICIDE IN NIAGARA COUNTY, N.Y.
-----------------
(From the Lockport (N.Y.) papers, May 18)
On Monday last James M. Seaver, Collector of the
town of Hartland, Niagara County, committed sui-
cide by shooting himself in the heart.  Mr. Seaver
was elected Collector in 1868, and last winter it was
discovered that the tax roll had been tampered with
and Mr. Seaver was indicted for forgery.  The unfor-
tunate man made restitution as far as he was able
to those who supposed they had been wronged by
him, and in making restitution a note of hand, pur-
porting to be endorsed by his father, was used by
him.  Later the endorsement was pronounced a for-
gery - a circumstance which affected Mr. Seaver very

much.  Expecting his trial would take place this
week he took his life in the manner stated, protest-
ing his innocence to the last, as will be seen by the
following letter written by him: --
                          JOHNSON's CREEK, May 17, 1869.

A letter followed:


The transcription is:

TO ANY AND ALL WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:--
To friends, if any there is left, I would give my
kind regards from the bottom of my heart: to those
who are persecuting me I forgive them.  But there
is this difference between them and me.  Whilst
they were at their homes perambulating the country
with their patriotism oozing out at their finger ends,
I was at the front doing my duty to my country and
government and eating raw pork and hard bread. I
have been placed in trying circumstances before in
my life. I have been upon many a gory field of
strife, where my fellow man went down by the hun-
dreds and thousands; my only son carried from Cold
Harbor with his life's blood oozing out, and myself
maimed, scarred and wounded on more than one
battle-field; all this I could stand.  But when men
that I have been strong friends with, and they pre-
tend to be friends to me, and then turn to be black-
hearted traitors, it's more than I can stand, and es-
pecially after everything was all right to the last cent.
I have this satisfaction of knowing that nobody is
wronged but myself, and I have concluded to quit.
I have been advised to forsake my bail; but no, gen-
tlemen, no, never!  One thing more and I have done.
I am not guilty of altering that roll, so help me God!

I am sure that there is more to this story and I have not pursued it to any extent yet.  

My real interest was "Who is James M. Seaver?" and "what is his ancestry?"

I managed to find census records for the 1855 New York State Census in Hartland, N.Y. with wife Maria and children Catherine and Aaron, and in the 1860 U.S. Census in Hartland, N.Y. with his wife and two children in the John S. and Martha Severs household, and in the 1865 New York Census with Marie and Catherine in the John S. and Martha M. Severs household.  He was apparently born in about 1817.  

James M. Severs enlisted in Company E of the New York 8th Cavalry Regiment as a Private on 14 August 1862, and was mustered out as a full First Lieutenant on 27 June 1865 at Alexandria, Virginia.  The New York Town Clerks Register of Men Who Served in the Civil War on Ancestry.com provides a birth date for James M. Severs of Hartland as 22 May 1817.

There is one Ancestry Member Tree that includes James M. Severs, but it is not accessible.  I do not have James M. Severs or his parents or spouse and children in my Seaver database yet, but I will add them soon.  I need to do a bit more research about him and the family.  I wonder what happened to his wife and daughter.

All of the historical records I've seen so far give his surname as Severs, but the newspaper article lists it as Seaver.  

This was fun to research, but sad to read.  Life is hard sometimes.  

There thousands of real-life stories in the Seaver/Sever/Severs historical annals - this is one of them.


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Copyright (c) 2016, Randall J. Seaver

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1 comment:

Life Goes On said...

That was such a sad article to read. I am sure like you that there is so much more to his story.
Grace